2011 Annual Liberty Award Lecture
General John H. Tilelli Jr. (USA Ret)
It is a great honor for me to be here at the ICAS
Annual Liberty dinner. I want to personally thank Dr. Sang Joo Kim and the Board of ICAS
Also, I thank MG Lee, my friend the Defense Attaché for the Republic of Korea for being here, and Dr. Bechtol and Admiral McVadon.
I am humbled to be in the presence of Dr. Peter Rhee, whose career in the medical profession and service to his country makes him a stand-out among his peers. He truly epitomizes the theme of this foundation dinner of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. ICAS
and the founders have stood for that noble pursuit since its inception.
I, as a simple soldier, am honored to be recognized by ICAS
for the award but individually I am not worthy of this honor, and so I accept it on behalf of the many men and women who fought for the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I have been the lucky one who has stood out in front of these men and women; each day they strive for peace and stability on the Peninsula.
As many of you know, I love Korea and the Korean people and feel that Korea is my second home.
While we sit here this evening we must remember that the goal of life, liberty and happiness is a one-sided affair on the Peninsula. North Korea is still a regime who does not care for her people.
- Crime family cult whose goal is to protect the regime.
- Whose people are malnourished and starving.
- Whose people live where the military are first.
- Whose regime is developing nuclear weapons and threatens the globe.
- Whose regime threatens the Republic of Korea daily through inflammatory rhetoric.
A country that has not only committed acts of provocation against the military in the Republic of Korea, but also killed innocent civilians on YPdo Island last year. A regime that will transition to a third generation member of the Kim family cult.
In contrast the ROK/US Alliance embodies the principles of democracy and encourages the liberty and happiness of its citizens that we believe is the right of free people. Just think of South Korea and the fantastic changes that have occurred in the last 60 years. A miracle for the world to emulate, the Republic of Korea is a country of people with a strong work ethic that has moved the country from deprivation and war-torn suffering to prosperity. Along with this prosperity is unbound optimism for the future by the Korean people. Through the hard work of the people of Korea in their hope for the democratic principles the country has grown to the 11th
largest Gross Domestic Product in the world and one of the most educated countries in the world.
The Republic of Korea and the U.S. has one of the closest and most important political, economic and military relationships in the world. This alliance lives by Katchi Kapshida or "We go together"; look what the relationship has yielded for the people….. opportunity to achieve those goals and the undeniable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The strength of the Republic of Korea is forged by our mutual alliance and Defense Treaty. As we look at photos of the destruction and compare it to today we know that the verdant forests and fields are nourished by the blood of Koreans and Americans who fought for freedom and democracy and the right to pursue happiness and liberty. We all understand that freedom was not, and is not, free.
You know that even today as the Republic of Korea flourishes American men and women, along with their Korean brothers and sisters have vowed to defend this great country. Korea is a beacon for the world to see. It is a unique nation among nations. It stands as a model for people who desire democracy.
You know that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not just words but must be embraced by all free people, and with the grace of God and our persistence as we go together we will see these same benefits enjoyed by the people in North Korea in a reunified Republic of Korea.
So again, thank you for this honor. I pray that our Alliance will stay strong and vigilant.
This page last updated December 17, 2011 jdb